One of the hardest things about all of this, I think, was learning how to tell people.
For the longest time, I would just go hide in an empty office or the bathroom whenever I was having trouble breathing – as if everybody in the building didn’t hear my coughing and nobody noticed me trying to hide obvious respiratory distress at my desk.
I tend to do the same thing when I park my car in the winter: I know, of course, that the walk to my vehicle in the cold will inevitably launch a coughing fit that will send me to my knees, and that I won’t really be safe to drive home for at least a half hour. So, I park as far away from the building as I can manage – it makes everything harder, but at least nobody sees.
This, I’m told, is stupid.
I work in a pretty remote location. We’re not so isolated that there’s no highway access, but we’re isolated enough that it would take am ambulance an hour or so to reach us. Longer in the winter.
In the unlikely event of an emergency, those delays wouldn’t be very helpful and it would be even less helpful if nobody noticed that anything was wrong. So, I’ve been obligated to talk about all of this with my manager and peers. As in, it’s actually a workplace policy sort of obligated.
It hasn’t been all bad, really. Whether or not I’ve been diagnosed with asthma really depends on which healthcare practitioner you ask, but it’s the simplest explanation. Nobody I’ve told was surprised, either.
It’s still embarrassing when my coworkers see me using my inhaler, and the spacer doesn’t help matters. I suspect it’s a bigger deal for me than them, though… and you know what? I don’t cough as much as I used to, and Ventolin usually sorts it out quickly, but I still cough quite a lot. It’s nice that nobody thinks I have the plague anymore!